Ultimate Banana Bread
Ultimate Banana Bread is a classic take on banana bread but with an extra step to concentrate the flavor. It can be made with very ripe or frozen bananas, and the fresh banana topping is visually striking.
My dad is a big fan of America’s Test Kitchen. He doesn’t cook but rather uses the show to get ideas of things for my mom and I to make him 🙂 He saw this banana bread on an episode of ATK and immediately begged me to make it. Luckily I have a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated online and was able to find the recipe.
This recipe takes more work than your typical banana bread, requiring a microwaving step to release the liquid from the bananas, and then a step making a reduction from this liquid. This microwave step can be avoided if you use frozen bananas, which I happened to have in my freezer awaiting such an occasion.
This bread is super moist and has a true banana flavor, as ATK intended. My dad and his friend were at our house doing some work in the basement after I had made this loaf. They took a snack break and my dad’s friend said it was the best banana bread he’s ever had! That certainly justifies the additional steps!
Gluten Free Ultimate Banana Bread
I have not tried making this with my favorite gluten free flour yet, but I would bet it would work well, as I’ve had success with this flour in other baked goods!
Looking for More Quick Bread Recipes?
Check out these other quick breads:
Double Chocolate Banana Bread
Cranberry Christmas Cake
Poppy Seed Bread
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
Pineapple Carrot Bread
Another use for ripe bananas is Daniel Tiger’s Banana Swirl! A delicious frozen treat. Also try this No Bake Banana Split Cake!
- 1 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 6 large very ripe bananas (about 2 1/4 pounds, peeled – see note)
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (1 stick)
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a standard loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl.
- Place 5 bananas in microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap and cut several steam vents in the plastic. Microwave on high until bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer placed over medium bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes (you should have ½ to ¾ cup liquid).
- Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to ¼ cup, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas, and mash with potato masher until fairly smooth. Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.
- Pour banana mixture into flour mixture and stir until just combined with some streaks of flour remaining. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Slice remaining banana diagonally into ¼-inch-thick slices. Shingle banana slices on top of either side of loaf, leaving 1½-inch-wide space down center to ensure even rise. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.
- Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 50 to 75 minutes. Cool bread in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes, then remove the loaf from the pan and continue to cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.